It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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The light on Park Avenue. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Today is the Winter Solstice when either of the Earth’s poles reach their maximum tilt away from the Sun. Growing up it was always referred to as the shortest day (light) of the year. This happens twice in each hemisphere. From now on, the daylight will get longer (hooray!) Very cold in New York after very cold sunny day with temps down to the mid-20s.

I had a long lunch at Sette with Marie-France Pochna who is here from her home in Paris visiting family and also publicizing her new book: Christian Dior: Destiny: The Authorized Biography — which was the reason for our meeting. I’d already heard about the book, and read a couple of reviews. When I heard she was in town I wanted to meet her to learn more.

Click to order.

I was a very young boy when Dior launched his first couture collection after the Second World War was over. This was in the late 1940s. I can’t recall how or why but growing up I was aware of the sensation of Monsieur Dior’s inaugural collection. It was his first as a designer and it had a profound effect on women’s fashion not only in France and Europe but also in the United States. It changed the nations’ mood from dark to bright and smart. Marie-France explained to me the psychic affect it had the French because the collection/designs had a fresh and beautiful vibe, as if celebrating the end of that torture.

Dior’s sister Catherine — to whom the book is dedicated was very active in the French resistance and imprisoned by the Nazis in one of their death camps. Paris long before the War had been the center of women’s fashion in the world. The war brought all of that to a grey and somber end.

Catherine’s brother, who was multi-talented, revived it with such an energy that when Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus in Texas heard about it he connected with the designer, brought him to Texas and planned to market his genius here. All was done very successfully and positively. For Dior himself, it brought a new international relationship between the United States and France, and a new attitude about us Americans.

Hervé Papillault des Charbonneries, Catherine Dior, Christian Dior, and housekeeper Madame Lefèvre at Callian in 1947. Photo: Dior-Charbonneries Archive

A couple of decades ago Marie-France had written a biography of Dior that was 256 pages in length. She decided years later  to write it again because in between she had learned so much more about the designer’s life. This new volume is 475 pages. The designer came from a prosperous family that was financially ruined by the war but Christian with his talents revived his family’s prosperity and place. I’ll tell you more when I’ve read it.

Meanwhile, this week is one of anticipation to the 25th. You can see the signs everywhere you go. JH was out there with his camera taking in some of our neighbors’ expressions and anticipations of the holidays we’re in.

Also our friend Patsy Tarr down in Miami was inspired by Louis Bofferding’s piece on Joe Eula to send us some photos she took of Eula’s work elsewhere, such as the China he designed for Tiffany (still one of her favorites), as well as some of the sketches he made for Geoffrey Beene — that covered the four walls of Beene’s reception area in his 57th Street atelier — which she photographed many years ago. They remain for her “unsurpassed in capturing Beene’s spirit through illustration.”


Eula’s Tiffany’s Roosters tableware made for Tiffany & Co. in England in 1998.
Some of the Eula’s sketches made for the reception area in Geoffrey Beene’s 57th Street atelier …

I noticed yesterday that the traffic is lighter already and the schools are closing or beginning to close for the holiday. We’re getting down to the last-minute shopping and surprises that will come to some. Yesterday I mentioned Verdura and Emilio and today the focus is on another purveyor of luxury jewels who is also an advertiser on the NYSD: Christopher Walling Jewelry.

When I first heard of Christopher’s work back in the early ’90s, he was famous among the social set for his pearl earrings. They were a special design that were “must-haves” on many a woman’s list. Practical, beautiful, and chic.

When he moved his place of business to 485 Park Avenue (at 58th Street), I went down to have a look at his collections. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches; they’re all their in the precious glory. If you click on the advertisement on this page, you can get a good idea of what he has to offer to the woman with taste.

Christopher Walling’s Columbian Emerald & Sapphire Suite now happily living between Rio & Gstaad. The earrings “convert” to allow both huge Emeralds to be on one ear & both huge Sapphires to be on the other. Christopher prefers the “mis-matched version.”

Also: From online to in person. Karen Roberts New York, which as many NYSD readers know has been doing business online and through Trunk Shows at major New York, Washington DC and Florida locations since 2015 — such as The Carlyle Hotel, The Palace Hotel, The Omni Berkshire and the Ritz Carlton — has just opened her first retail establishment here in New York.

Karen sells what they rightfully call “simply elegant day dresses” that can go right into evening (and evening dresses too!). Again, they’re practical and Classic American. It’s one style (and variations on the theme): Simple, chic and elegant. And practical on many levels.

Karen Roberts in her new atelier.

Her new store is located on the Upper East Side — 990 Lexington Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets in the previously occupied space by Shen between Lee Anderson and Peter Elliot. It has the feel of a small Atelier, with comfortable seating and dressing rooms and space to try on your selections in privacy.

Stop by and have a look for yourself at the lovely new space. You’ll see her collection of beautiful sheaths, beautifully crafted and sewn in NYC’s garment district. She produces them in a multitude of fabrics, colors, patterns and textures from fabrics imported from all over the world.

A peek inside Karen Roberts, located at 990 Lexington Avenue (between 71st and 72nd Streets).

Chic, yes; and sensible and practical; winners whenever in doubt, accessorized and celebrated with the necklace from Chris Walling, or the stunning bracelets from Verdura, or those extraordinary diamond rings from Emilio! And you’re ready to go!!

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